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Strong winds slow Japan to halt

By Yoko Wakatsuki, CNN
updated 9:27 AM EDT, Tue April 3, 2012
A typhoon-like storm sweeps two trucks over on a bridge at Toyama, western Japan on April 3, 2012.
A typhoon-like storm sweeps two trucks over on a bridge at Toyama, western Japan on April 3, 2012.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Two people were killed in weather-related incidents
  • In one city, winds as high as 94 miles per hour were recorded
  • Strong winds and heavy rains are expected through Wednesday

Tokyo (CNN) -- A spring storm packing typhoon-strength winds caused two deaths and paralyzed traffic in Japan on Tuesday.

In Toyama, strong winds pulled down a barn, killing a man, police there said. In Ishikawa prefecture, an 82-year-old woman died after hitting her head when she fell in strong wind.

Japan's meteorological agency predicted a developing low pressure system and front in the Sea of Japan will create strong winds and heavy rain in Japan from Tuesday morning through Wednesday. The agency asked people to avoid potential weather hazards by remaining indoors.

Strong gusts and rain hit western Japan in the morning and widened northward throughout the day.

A record-breaking wind was recorded in the western city of Tomogashima, at 150 kilometers per hour (94 miles per hour).

By late afternoon, train stations in Tokyo's business and commercial districts were packed with commuters who took early trains home to avoid potential public transportation closures.

Many companies, including Sony, Canon and Fujitsu, closed business early to send employees home.

Memories of traffic chaos are still fresh on people's minds in large Japanese cities where tens of thousands were stranded overnight after last year's devastating earthquake.

The Shinkansen bullet train service was stopped between west and central Japan, while railway service was suspended in many areas throughout the country. More than 500 flights were canceled.

Images of toppled trucks, broken umbrellas and squatting pedestrians unable to walk in strong winds were shown one after another on evening news programs.

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